4 steps to avoid self-sabotage

sad business womanUnsure how to interpret someone’s be­­havior? Beware of assuming the worst.

Would-be leaders can waste time and energy by drawing the wrong conclusion from, say, a peer’s stony silence or an employee’s edgy voice tone. It’s easy to think, “I’m the problem here. What have I done wrong?”

The solution: Monitor your self-doubt before it eats away at you.

Mark Walsh, a leadership expert in the United Kingdom, has developed a four-step process to prevent self-sabotage—the STUN technique:

1. Spot your thinking. Distinguish between the actual events and behaviors occurring around you and the stories you might tell yourself to explain what’s going on.

By detaching yourself and analyzing your stories from a safe distance, you may realize you’re distorting reality.

2. Separate what’s true from your impressions. Ask yourself, “What’s true about this situation?” and “What can I confirm through observation and facts?”

3. Identify useful explanations. Ask yourself, “What story is useful?” The answer might help you see how you’re clinging to a certain view because it advances your interests or reinforces existing biases. Realizing a story’s usefulness to you might lead you to rethink it and broaden your perspective.

4. Replace old stories with new ones. Select a more helpful narrative that reflects a more accurate interpretation of the situation.

Learning to separate self-sabotaging stories from reality makes you more resilient. Rather than undermine your attempts to lead, you’ll mobilize others more effectively by getting a better handle on what’s really happening and what will determine their success.

— Adapted from “4 steps to STUN your internal saboteurs,” Terrell Leadership Group, www.terrellleadership.com.